Georgia: LGBT and anti-‘gay propaganda’ activists face off in mob aftermath
One day after violence at an International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) rally in Georgia, supporters and opponents of LGBT rights gathered at the scene.
RIA Novosti reports that around 200 people took part in two rallies in downtown Tbilisi on Saturday.
One group were calling for condemnation and prosecution of the violent mob of thousands, led by clergymen, who chased down IDAHOT demonstrators on Friday, forcing police to evacuate LGBT rights supporters.
The other group, including members of the right wing Civil Front, were calling for a ban on “gay propaganda” in Georgia.
On Friday more than 2,000 police officers were deployed in order to prevent clashes between the LGBT demonstrators, and the much larger counter protest, however they were soon overwhelmed by the several thousand anti-LGBT protesters, and special forces were brought in to transport the LGBT demonstrators away in municipal busses.
Dozens were hospitalised, as brawls went on for hours following the demonstration amidst claims by gay rights activists that the Georgian Orthodox Church fomented the violence by continually speaking out against the rally, and on the evening before, calling for the government to call of the IDAHOT rally.
EU Human Rights adviser Thomas Hammarberg called on the Georgian Orthodox Church not to incite further conflict, cautioning “there is still unrest in the streets and a risk of still further violence.”
Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishili condemned the violence on Friday, saying: “The right to gather peacefully and to freely express one’s opinion is fundamental to our democracy.”